The United States Navy’s MQ-4C Triton unmanned aerial system (UAS), which was developed by Northrop Grumman, has recently begun operational assessment (OA) in Maryland at the NAS Patuxent River. This operational assessment is being held in preparation for the milestone C review and entry into low-rate initial production. Over the span of the next two months, the Triton will undergo six flights and will execute various operational test scenarios in order to evaluate the system’s operational performance.
"We worked very hard to demonstrate system performance and stability leading up to the start of operational assessment,” said Sean Burke, the program manager of Triton. "We are eager to move into initial production as the next step to delivering Triton to the fleet."
The operational assessment will better enable the United States Navy to identify and address risk areas and will allow them to better understand challenges which will arise as the system continues through with the follow-on initial operational test and evaluation (IOT&E) phase.
The MQ-4C Triton is an updated broad area maritime surveillance (BAMS) UAS, which will help to compliment the United States Navy’s maritime reconnaissance and patrol force family of systems. The Triton will provide C4ISR, signals intelligence (SIGNET), as well as maritime strike capabilities, and will operate as a land-based, forward deployed, autonomously operated system. This unmanned aerial system will utilize a multi-sensor mission payload which will provide for persistent maritime surveillance, intelligence, and reconnaissance capabilities.
The Milestone C decision is anticipated to be determined by early next year, which will then be followed by the UAS program to enter into low-rate initial production. The United States Navy is expected to purchase 68 Triton UAS, with plans in 2016 to acquire three production aircraft. The first operational aircraft is expected to be complete by 2017.
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